We live in a fluid culture where the intersection of work and life intermingle with out respect to place or time. As a result we often find it difficult to turn off work mode. We aren’t present with our families or we are lying awake at night thinking of projects and deadlines. To cope with this reality I think you’ll find it invigorating to set boundaries and space between these worlds and a large part of that process for me has become a routine I call “closing the day.”
Listen to me carefully. I’m a man with sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, night owl tendencies and my circadian rhythms have me doing my best work at 2am. If I can close a day trust me… you can do. Your body and soul will thank you.
- Inbox Zero – Every day. Your time for this goal may vary but at the end of the day there shouldn’t be a single email in your inbox. Not one. Be diligent and learn the tricks.
- Organize your email into 3 folders: Action, Hold, Archive – If you can respond to an email in less than 2 minutes do so. If not it should hit one of these folders. Action if you need to do something, Hold if you are awaiting someone else to take the next action, Archive for archiving. Simple. GTD preaches Do, Delegate, Delete, Defer.
- Forward emails to your Evernote Account if they reference an active project and you need them at your fingertips.
- Defer emails into tasklists or appointments as quick as possible.
- Anything left over, stick in Action folder and process tomorrow before you check the new messages.
- Get read of the junk, use another email address for newsletters or use filters to automatically sort emails. Don’t forget to Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe
- Everything in its place and place for everything
Calendar – Live by a calendar or 3. Place events there so you know where they are assigned and don’t think about them again. If you need take some action prior to an event you might add it as a separate appointment depending on the time you need to allocate. Live by the motto, if it isn’t on a calendar it doesn’t exist. Tooltip: Use Google Calendar
Tasklist – Anything that isn’t an appointment or a reserved time block goes here. Use an app that syncs to the web so you have them with you at all times. Throw it in the tasklist, put some reference info in the notes, and stick it on a day. You can prioritize and sort later – Tooltip: Try the 2Do app or Wunderlist system
Notebook – Things you need to remember, reference material, project data, meeting minutes. This is your second-brain. Get a good notebook or try the incredible Evernote system. I create work and project folders and drag the info into Evernote. I don’t have to worry what I did with it I know its there when I need it. Tooltip: Get a Ecosystem Notebook, made in USA with nice perforated edges, download Evernote everywhere
Close the Day
At the end of each day review your calendar and tasklist.
Juggle what needs to be moved
Set priorities and timelines for the next day. Now you are done.
Put it up. Everything is tied up into a nice tidy bow so walk away. Seriously, know that you did all you could do today, everything is in its place and you know what you are facing tomorrow. Less to worry about and less to invade our minds. You will sleep better I promise ( or else I’ll give you the name of my sleep doctor).
One last piece of advice. Set times you are offline. I call it airplane mode. From 5-7p every evening I make a habit of putting my phone on silent and face down in another room. Nothing earth shattering will happen and if it does I’ll find out about it at 7:01pm
What is your system? Do you think “Closing your Day” will help you be more present and rested?